Friday, July 14, 2017

JOHN KEBLE, "the true and primary author" of the Oxford Movement (Newman)

John Keble, priest, theologian and poet, was born in 1792. He was a leading figure in the “Oxford Movement” (otherwise known as the “Catholic Revival”) in the Church of England, which Newman always regarded as having begun with Keble’s sermon in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin on 14th July, 1833. He famously preached on “National Apostasy.” Keble was a fellow of Oriel, who in 1827 had published "The Christian Year", a popular volume of poems for Sundays and festivals. He was also Oxford’s Professor of Poetry from 1831 to 1841. 

Keble, Newman, Pusey and others published Ninety “Tracts for the Times”, hence the reference to them as “Tractarians.” They sought a spiritual revival by recalling the Church of England to its true Catholic heritage. Their followers became known as “Anglo-Catholics." They had a lasting influence on the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion. 

After 1841, Keble retired to his country vicarage in the village of Hursley, near Winchester. He wrote tracts and hymns. He was above all a devoted parish priest, who modeled the pastoral ministry for which the Catholic Revival was renowned. Keble famously said that if the Church of England collapsed, it would be found in his parish. He was at the same time shy and reserved, and forcefully strong-minded. He preached earnestly and affectionately. He was buried in the Churchyard at Hursley after his death in 1866. His wife Charlotte died a few weeks later and was buried with him. They had no children. Keble College, Oxford, was named in his honour when it was founded in 1869.

The following essay on Keble was published in 1913 by the Catholic Literature Association.

John Keble, ‘the true and primary author’ of the Oxford Movement, as Newman says of him in his Apologia, was born at Fairford in Gloucestershire on St. Mark’s Day, 1792, being thus eight years older than Dr. Pusey, nine than Newman, ten than Isaac Williams, and eleven than Hurrell Froude. His father was a scholar of parts who had been a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, before becoming vicar of Coin St. Aldwyn’s, near Fairford; his mother was a lady of Scotch descent, the daughter of the incumbent of Ringwood in Hampshire. Both his parents had been brought up in the great tradition of the Caroline divines, and from them John Keble learnt the old Catholic doctrines of the Real Presence, the Apostolical Succession, and the Visible Church. He was educated by his father at home, and won an open scholarship at Corpus Christi College when he was not yet fifteen years old.

At Oxford Keble had the most brilliant academical career of his time. In 1810, when he was only a little over eighteen, he obtained the very rare distinction of a double first-class in Classics and Mathematics. In the following year he was elected to an open Fellowship at Oriel College, and immediately proceeded to win both the Latin and the English Essays. Isaac Williams in his Autobiography tells us that these achievements invested him with a bright halo and something of awe in the eyes of an undergraduate,’ and Newman, writing in 1823, says, ‘Keble is the first man in Oxford.’

Almost immediately after reaching his twenty-third birthday, he was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Oxford on Trinity Sunday, 1815, and Priest in the following year. His fellowship served him as a title, but he also assisted his father at Coin, riding over each Sunday from Oxford for the purpose. The following extract from a letter to Coleridge, written just before his ordination, will show the spirit in which he approached his life-work: ‘Pray for me earnestly, my dear, my best friend, that he would give me his grace, that I may not be altogether unworthy of the sacred office on which I am, rashly I fear, even now entering; but that some souls hereafter may have cause to bless me. Pray that I may be free from vanity, from envy, from discontent, from impure imaginations; that I may not grow weary, nor wander in heart from God’s service; that I may not be judging others uncharitably, nor vainly dreaming how they will judge me, at the very moment that I seem most religiously and most charitably employed.’

In 1817 he was appointed Tutor at Oriel, and retained this office for six years, devoting himself almost entirely to academical work. At the end of this time his mother died, and he at once decided to leave Oxford that he might live near his father. Accordingly, he became curate of Southrop, near Fairford, being responsible also for two other small villages East Leech and Burthorpe. Here he remained for three years, refusing in 1824 the Archdeaconry of Barbados, and leaving in the following year to become curate-in-charge of Hursley, near Winchester. In September, 1826, the death of his favourite sister caused him to change his plans again, and he returned to Fairford to act as his father’s curate. In 1835 his father’s death left him free to accept the living of Hursley, and there he remained until his death.

When Keble left Oriel to become curate at Southrop, several of his pupils followed him to read with him during the Long Vacation for their degree. Among these pupils was Richard Hurrell Froude, who eagerly drank in his convictions and ideas, and determined to be their mouthpiece and champion. The seeds of the coming revival were sown in the association of these two men. ‘Froude,’ says Dean Church, ‘took in from Keble all he had to communicate’--principles, convictions, moral rules and standards of life, hopes, fears, antipathies. And his keenly tempered intellect, and his determination and high courage, gave a point and an impulse of their own to Keble’s views and purposes. As things came to look darker, and dangers seemed more serious to the Church, its faith or its rights, the interchange of thought between master and disciple, in talk and in letter, pointed more and more to the necessity for coming action.’

The religious outlook was dark indeed. Rarely had things looked blacker for the English Church than they looked a hundred years ago. For a generation the clergy had been closely allied with the Tory Party, and the Whigs were now in power, with the result that the Church had become exceedingly unpopular both with the Government and with the people, particularly in the large towns. The tyranny of the State over the Church had been steadily increasing during the eighteenth century, and had now become almost complete. Added to this there had been since the French Revolution a rapid growth of secularism throughout England. The popular philosophy of the time regarded religion as ‘the rubbish of superstition,’ and looked to education, enlightenment, and reason to provide the cure for the ills from which mankind was suffering. The internal condition of the English Church was not such as to afford much hope that it would be able to meet successfully the onslaughts of these combined forces. With but scanty realization of sacramental life, dull and conventional services, worldly bishops and clergy, and a widespread absence of devotion and enthusiasm, the Church was not likely to have a powerful hold on the hearts of her children.

Such was the condition of affairs when, in 1826, Froude returned from Southrop to take up a Fellowship at Oriel. He came back to Oxford filled with Keble’s ideas of reform and renewal, and passionately determined to make them public and aggressive. At Oriel he found a colleague who was growing dissatisfied with the Evangelicalism in which he had been brought up, and whose keen and eager mind was ready to receive the Catholic ideas which Froude had learned from Keble. This was John Henry Newman, in some respects the greatest of the Oxford Leaders. ‘Keble had given the inspiration,’ says Dean Church, ‘Froude had given the impulse; then Newman took up the work, and the impulse henceforward, and the direction, were his.’

It was Froude who was responsible for bringing Keble and Newman together. With death in view he said, at the end of his brief life: ‘You know the story of the murderer who had done one good deed in his life. Well, if I was ever asked what good deed I had done, I should say I had brought Keble and Newman to understand one another.’

In 1832 Froude and Newman went on a voyage to the Mediterranean in an unsuccessful attempt to patch up Froude’s failing health. While in Sicily Newman had a serious illness, and his recovery from it strengthened in his mind the conviction that he had a work to do for the Church. His verses--’Lead, kindly Light’--written at this time, show the spirit that was in him. But he looked to Keble to lead the way. In a letter from Sicily to a friend, he writes: ‘We are in good spirits about the prospects of the Church. We find Keble is at length roused, and (if once up) he will prove a second Ambrose.’ He and Froude, with Keble and others, had already begun a book of poems, Lyra Apostolica, which was to rouse the slumbering Church, and had taken for its motto a line from Homer:’ And let them know that I too long have held aloof from war.’ In July, 1833, the travellers were back in England again, and on the 14th of that month Keble gave the signal for concerted action in the Assize Sermon which he preached before the University. ‘I have ever considered and kept the day,’ writes Newman in his Apologia, ‘as the start of the religious movement of 1833.’

The text of the sermon was i Sam. xii. 23: ‘As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.’ The preacher’s aim was to draw public attention to the grave and pressing dangers that threatened the Church both from State interference with her liberties, and from the widespread decay of religious convictions. At such a time it was the duty of all who valued the cause of the Apostolic Church to devote themselves to its defence. ‘Surely,’ said the preacher, ‘it will be no unworthy principle if any man is more circumspect in his behaviour, more watchful and fearful of himself, more earnest in his petitions for spiritual aid, from a dread of disparaging the holy name of the English Church in her hour of peril, by his own personal fault and negligence. . . . There may be, as far as he knows, but a very few to sympathize with him. He may have to wait long, and very likely pass out of this world, before he see any abatement in the triumph of disorder and irreligion. But if he be consistent, he possesses to the utmost the personal consolations of a good Christian; and as a true Churchman, he has the encouragement which no other cause in the world can impart in the same degree; he is calmly, soberly, demonstrably sure that, sooner or later, his will be the winning side, and that the victory will be complete, universal, eternal.’

The sermon was published on July 22, under the title National Apostasy. It does not seem to have excited much attention at the time. One of the two judges before whom it was preached is said to have remarked that it was ‘an appropriate discourse.’ Dr. Pusey, we are told, considered ‘some passages rather too pointed.’ But there were others who had a truer realization of its significance. To Newman’s judgment, already quoted, may be added the words of Dr. J. B. Mozley, one of the ablest of the Tractarians, and one of the deepest thinkers of his time: ‘I cannot help thinking it a kind of exordium of a great revolution--shall I call it?--coming on, whether rapidly or slowly we cannot tell, but at any rate most surely.’

Ten days later a conference was held at Hadleigh in Suffolk, to consider what practical steps could be taken to carry on the campaign. This conference was attended by the Revd. Hugh James Rose, Rector of Hadleigh; the Revd. William Palmer, a Dublin graduate who had settled at Oxford; the Revd. the Hon. Arthur Philip Perceval, an Oriel man and a fellow of All Souls, who had been a pupil of Keble; and the Revd. Richard Hurrell Froude. Keble was prevented by home-ties from coming, and Newman also was absent.

This meeting had no immediate results except to show that those who attended it were practically agreed both in their principles and in their conviction that definite action must be taken. But the Conferences were continued in Oxford, and had two main results. First, an Address to the Archbishop was prepared, expressing devoted adherence to the Apostolical Doctrine and Polity of the Church. This was ultimately signed by more than 7,000 clergy, and was presented in February, 1834. It was followed by a similar Lay Address which was signed by 230,000 heads of families.

The second result was of far greater importance. It was decided ‘to provide and circulate books and tracts to attempt to revive among Churchmen the practice of daily common prayer, and more frequent participation of the Lord’s Supper; to resist any attempt to alter the Liturgy on any insufficient authority, and to explain any points in discipline or worship which might be liable to be misunderstood. Thus were born the Tracts for the Times. These were short papers--at first price 1d. or 2d.--dealing with important points of Faith and Practice. Later on, they developed into elaborate treatises. Newman was mainly responsible for the Tracts, writing nearly a third of the first series himself. Indeed, he claims in the Apologia that he began the Tracts ‘out of his own head.’ Seven of the Tracts were written by Keble (Nos. 4, 13, 52, 54, 57, 60, 89).

The story of the development of the Movement thus begun will be told in other booklets in this series. Throughout the long struggle, until his death in 1866, Keble remained in the background at Hursley, helping with his writings, his advice, and above all with the stimulus and inspiration of his spirituality. Both Newman and Pusey ever regarded him as their leader and head, and bore constant witness to his influence as the guiding power of the Movement he had done so much to begin.

Keble, as Dean Church says, was ‘born a poet,’ and while he was still at Oxford had formed the idea of a complete collection of poems to illustrate the Church’s Year. But he underestimated the value of his own compositions, and it was only after much hesitation that in 1827 he published anonymously in two small volumes The Christian Year. These poems were meant to throw light and interest on the services of the Prayer Book, and to quicken meditation and devotion. The plan of the book is simple. There is a poem for every Sunday and Holyday in the year, and a poem for each of the Occasional Services in the Prayer Book. Some of these, or rather extracts from them, are familiar to us as hymns--e.g., ‘Ave Maria! blessed Maid!’; ‘Bless’d are the pure in heart’; ‘There is a book who runs may read’; ‘New every morning is the love’; ‘Sun of my soul!’ But the majority of the poems are quite unsuitable for hymns; their tone is that of quiet personal meditation rather than of corporate worship. Throughout they are deeply Scriptural in thought and expression, and are full of clear Church teaching. Moreover, they are instinct with the beauty of nature. Keble had the deepest sympathy with what was then a new school of poetry which, with Wordsworth as its representative, was searching out the deeper relations between nature and the human soul. He lived in the heart of the country, and studied nature unceasingly. He had an eye for the ‘soft green willow’ and for ‘the greenest dark tree.’ For him there is a sermon ‘in every leaf, in every nook.’ In the poem for All Saints’ Day he rose to his utmost heights in showing how nature can reflect our deepest feelings:

How quiet shows the woodland scene,
Each flower and tree, its duty done,
Reposing in decay serene,
Like weary men when age is won.

The volume was a success at once. Keble’s sister writes, soon after its publication: ‘The commendation from all the choicest people is so great as to satisfy even our voracious appetite for praise.’ Newman, no unworthy judge, describes the poems as ‘quite exquisite.’ A second edition was called for within the year, and in twenty-five years the sale had reached more than a hundred thousand copies. It is not too much to say that The Christian Year has secured a place which has been granted to no other volume of religious poetry in the language.

One result of the publication of these poems was Keble’s election to the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford, an office which he held for ten years (1831-1841). This had the advantage of bringing him up to Oxford once a term for his terminal lecture, so that through the most eventful years of the Tractarian Movement he was able to be in constant personal touch with the other leaders.

Three other books of poems may here be mentioned: Lyra Apostolica, to which reference has already been made, containing nearly fifty of Keble’s poems; The Child’s Christian Year, which was edited by him, but of which only four of the poems are known definitely to be his own; and Lyra Innocentium, a book of poems about children and their ways, which he published anonymously in 1846.

Though Keble was by no means so prolific a writer as either Newman or Pusey, he made some valuable contributions to the theology of the Movement. His share in the Tracts for the Times has already been mentioned. In 1836 he edited an edition of Hooker’s works with critical notes, and he also wrote a Life of Bishop Wilson for the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology. After his death, twelve volumes of his sermons were published by Pusey and other friends. Pusey said of these that their chief characteristics are affectionate simplicity and intense reality.

The most important of his prose writings, however, was his treatise on Eucharistical Adoration. This was written in support of Archdeacon Denison, who had been attacked for two sermons preached in Wells Cathedral in which he stated that the Body and Blood of Christ are received by those who eat and drink unworthily, and that worship is due to the real though invisible presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine. On refusing to retract these statements, Archdeacon Denison was deprived of his vicarage and archdeaconry, but this sentence was overthrown by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on February 6, 1858. Keble had published his treatise in the previous year, after the sentence of deprivation had been pronounced. It consists partly of a careful examination of the grounds of the practice of Eucharistical Adoration, partly of a consideration of the duty of Churchmen in face of the judgment. Its object was, not to reason out at large what he calls ‘that great and comfortable, and I will add necessary, truth of the Real Presence,’ but rather, ‘calmly, and not without deep reverence of heart,’ to allay troublesome thoughts which interrupt devotion. The book is consequently almost as much a devotional treatise as a theological disquisition; and it is lighted up, here and there, by touches of the poetry which played like sunshine round Keble’s deepest thought. Liddon in his Life of Pusey describes it as ‘perhaps the most beautiful of Keble’s contributions to the theological treasures of the Church of England.’

Newman, when asked to describe Keble, said that it was impossible to paint a man who would not sit for his picture. These words seem to point to the innate humility which is the foundation virtue of the saintly life, and which was the central feature of his character. He was absolutely without ambition, with no care for the possession of power or influence, hating show and excitement, and distrustful of his own abilities. It was not his way to set store on anything that he did; he was impatient of allusions in conversation to The Christian Year, which he published anonymously, and would refer to in conversation without naming it as ‘that book.’

Though shy and awkward with strangers, he was happy and at ease among his friends, and their love and sympathy drew out all his droll playfulness of wit and manner. ‘Keble is certainly great fun,’ wrote J. B. Mozley to a friend. His keen sensitiveness made him quick of temper, so that he could speak of himself in later days, in intimate correspondence, as ‘a certain testy old clerk whom you know of.’ It led, too, to moods of melancholy, which he struggled against by deeds of active kindness, and by falling back upon the deepest religious motives. ‘The best cure for melancholy,’ he once said, ‘is to go out and do something kind to someone.’

There was a note of unearthliness about him which was immediately recognized by those who came into intimate contact with him, and made an abiding impression on them. He had the air and mien of one who was living very close to God, and this gave him a separateness and dignity with which it was impossible to trifle or take liberties. Yet he was so conscious of his own sinfulness that he really esteemed others better than himself, and poured out his penitence in language which to those who have not his sense of the holiness of God might well seem extravagant and unreal. By the younger Tractarians he was regarded with reverential awe. ‘The slightest word he dropped,’ says Mozley in his Reminiscences, ‘was all the more remembered from there being so little of it, and from it seeming to come from a different and holier sphere. His manner of talking favoured this, for there was not much continuity in it, only every word was a brilliant or a pearl.’

Throughout his ministry his advice was constantly sought, not only by friends and parishioners, but by strangers needing direction for their own spiritual life, or guidance in ecclesiastical questions. His Letters of Spiritual Counsel, published four years after his death, show how wise he was in direction, and yet how humble. Their tone is always this: ‘I am a very bad person for you to have come to; I have had little experience and little knowledge. I need your prayers and forgiveness much more than you need mine, and whatever I say, you must see if it is right, and then act upon it.’ ‘You write so humbly, it would perplex me at times; only I construe it my own way,’ wrote Pusey to him. Liddon called him the wisest man he had ever known.

In personal appearance he was about middle height, with rather square and sloping shoulders, which made him look short until he pulled himself up, as he often did with ‘sprightly dignity.’ His head, says Mozley, ‘was one of the most beautifully formed heads in the world,’ the face rather plain-featured, with a large unshapely mouth, but the whole redeemed by a bright smile which played naturally over the lips; and under a broad and smooth forehead he had ‘clear, brilliant, penetrating eyes which lighted up quickly with merriment kindled into fire in a moment of indignation. Liddon tells us that in his later years his face was like an illuminated clock, all lit up with the spiritual fire that burned within.

Keble died on March 29, 1866, at the age of seventy-four, and was buried at Hursley on April 6. One who witnessed the funeral says: ‘the stream of clergy who followed seemed as if it would never end.’ His abiding memorial is the great College at Oxford which bears his name, and which was opened in 1870 as a monument of loving homage to his venerated personality. ‘The days will come, I suppose,’ said Liddon, ‘if indeed they have not yet come, when young men looking at those buildings will ask the question, “Who was Keble?” To have made it inevitable that that question should be asked by successive generations of Oxford students, is to have added to the moral wealth of the world. For the answer to that question cannot but do good to the man who asks it. It is not high station, or commanding wealth, or great public exploits, or wide popularity of opinions, which will explain the foundation of the College--raised as it is to the memory of a quiet country clergyman, with a very moderate income, who sedulously avoided public distinctions, and held tenaciously to an unpopular School all his life. Keble College is a witness to the homage which goodness, carried into the world of thought, or, indeed, into any activity, extorts from all of us, When we are fairly placed face to face with it; it is a proof that neither station, nor wealth, nor conspicuousness, nor popularity, is the truest and ultimate test of greatness. True greatness is to be recognized in character; and in a place like this character is largely, if not chiefly, shaped by the degree in which moral qualities are brought to bear upon the activities of the mind. The more men really know of him, who, being dead, has, in virtue of the rich gifts and grace with which God had endowed him, summoned this College into being, the less will they marvel at such a tribute to his profound and enduring influence.’

* * * * * * * * * *

The village of Hursley is very near Winchester. Back in January I drove a friend there to visit the church and John Keble’s grave. I’ve been there twice before. Each time I found the church open, and although it’s not really a “shrine” - there is almost no Keble memorabilia on display - it is a lovely house of prayer. Just being there, reflecting on the challenge that lay in front of the fathers of the Oxford Movement, together with the crises of our own time, it was natural to mumble the invocation “John Keble, pray for us”! Here are two photos:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Evelyn Underhill and High Mass "crossing of the boundary between natural and supernatural worship"

High Mass at Pusey House, Oxford

I love this part of Douglass Shand Tucci's article THE HIGH MASS AS SACRED DANCE in which he quotes Anglican spiritual guide, Evelyn Underhill. Her words pretty well sum up the impact on me of the first High Mass I wandered into as an impressionable teenager. I am fortunate in my ministry as a priest to have served parishes in which this form of worship was kept going. In one of them, "Gospel Preaching : Traditional Catholic Worship" was the motto we used on the pew bulletin! 

High Mass was mostly swept away in our time by well-meaning people who thought they were making the Church more "relevant" to our culture. But, while it would be foolish to imagine that everyone has the cultural predisposition to being drawn to the Lord by the kind of worship described here, I can assure readers that many, including "unchurched" young people ARE drawn when this supernatural worship is offered as part of the new evangelisation!

Indeed, the yearning for the dimensions of worship spoken of in the following article lies behind the current movement to restore the transcendent and numinous which much of the Western Church has lost over the last sixty years.

Tucci's entire article, of which this is an extract, can be found HERE(To assist the reader of this extract, I have renumbered the endnotes.)

The distinguished Anglican scholar, Evelyn Underhill traced what could be called the graph of the Mass: from the liturgy of lessons and Gospel, “God’s uttered word in History,” and the Great Intercession, “the unstinting, self-spending with and for the purposes of God, by intercessory prayer,” of the Offertory, where Christ, she wrote, “enters the Holy Place as the representative of man, offering the humble material of man’s sacrifice, that he may come forth from it as the representative of God, bringing to man the Heavenly Food.” And, finally, to the Great Thanksgiving - when the gifts of bread and wine, set apart from the natural world for the Mystery, yield - “the invisible Holy Presence; Who comes under these lowly signs into the Sanctuary with an escort of incense and lights, and is welcomed by the enraptured Alleluias of the Cherubic Hymn, announcing the Presence of God.”

What better has been written of this tremendous moment of the Sanctus when “all that truly happens,” she wrote, “happens beyond the rampart of the world”? Sursum corda - Lift up your hearts, sings the celebrant. “The early liturgies leave us in no doubt,” she continued, “as to what this movement implied: ‘To the heavenly height, the awful place of glory. . . .’ This cry, and the people’s response, come down to us from the earliest days of the Church.” It marks, she declared, “the crossing of the boundary between natural and supernatural worship”; the knowing search for what she called “that ineffable majesty on which Isaiah looked, which is the theme of the earliest Eucharistic prayers, and which inspires the great Sanctus of the B Minor Mass, with its impersonal cry of pure adoration.” This is the world communicants enter as they approach the altar rail, wrote Underhill, where “the ‘Table of Holy Desires’ with its cross and ritual lights stands on the very frontier of the invisible.” (1)

Has anyone in our time set before architect or musician, so uncompromisingly, the task the liturgy forces upon them? As Underhill put it in another place, “movement and words combine to produce an art form which is the vehicle of [the Church’s] self-offering to God and communion with God.” The liturgy, she knew, is “an action and an experience that transcend the logical levels of the mind and demand an artistic rather than an intellectual form of expression.” (2) The honours of the church on earth significantly describe in her text what they describe, audibly and visually, in the mass. Bach is there as well as the cherubim, on the frontier of the invisible.

She knew well the risks of the medium; she knew the dangers of depending on an imperfect art to make a perfect art-form. But she knew too that to eschew art, worship must be “thin, abstract, notional: a tendency, an attitude, a general aspiration, moving alongside human life, rather than in it.” Worship thus embodied by the arts, she declared, “loses-or seems to lose-something of its purity; but only then can it take up and use man’s various powers and capacities ... thus entering the texture of his natural as well as supernatural life. Certainly, it is here that we encounter the greatest danger, that form will smother spirit.... But the risk is one which man is bound to take. He is not ‘pure’ spirit, and is not capable of ‘pure’ spiritual acts .... (3)

. . . most Anglicans continue to trivialize ceremonial and even to overlook its significance. They typically bury themselves throughout the liturgy in hymnal, prayer book, or service leaflet - on the dubious premise that to read what is being said is to understand it better. This, in turn, has had disastrous effects on church lighting, which frequently overthrows every attempt of the architect to create an evocative liturgical environment . . . Modern art has also sometimes strained the principles of liturgical art severely. That these principles can survive in modern work of great originality is clear. For example, consider Jean Langlais’ Messe Solennelle. Relentlessly liturgical, suggestive often of plainchant, its solemn, quiet and sometimes even lyrical texture is nonetheless so taut that when the tension erupts into Langlais’ massive, fiercely impassioned dissonances, the effect is a stunning and almost numbing grandeur of sound that evokes the mysterium tremendum with an uncanny distinction.

Is the High Mass, as Cram and others have thought, humanity’s “greatest artistic achievement”? Infrequently. Most church people have the erroneous impression that the very simple Low Mass is the most primitive form of Christian worship and that the solemn liturgy is a medieval elaboration. Actually, Low Mass is the medieval innovation . . .

Anglicans as well as Roman Catholics cannot be blamed for forgetting that the ancient High Mass, resplendent with lights, music, incense and full ceremonial, has always remained the theoretical norm of the western church as it is still the actual norm of Eastern Christendom. (4) Forgetful of this fact, we forget another: that “art in worship is not a mere imitation of the creative work of God; nor is it only a homage rendered to Christ; by giving embodiment to invisible realities it continues the Incarnation of the Word.” (5) Indeed, the Church has held that it “brings about objectively and in our very midst, the highest form of reality, the Summum Pulchrum, God Himself.’ “(6) Confronted with this astonishing purpose, and the distinguished art it has yielded, the art historian can only declare that in thus reaching “beyond the rampart of the world” for what Underhill called “that ineffable majesty upon which Isaiah looked,” the art of the High Mass is not only august but unparallelled.

* * * * * * * * * *

(1) The material quoted in this and the preceding paragraph is drawn from Evelyn Underhill's The Mystery of Sacrifice: A Meditation on the Liturgy (New York, 1954), unpaged introduction and pp. 18-40. The Mystery of Sacrifice was first published in 1938.

(2) Evelyn Underhill, Worship (New York, 1936), p. 33. See also p. 29.

(3) Ibid., p. 14.

(4) Ibid., p. 245.

(5) Ibid., P. 71.

(6) Hammenstede, "The Liturgy as Art," pp. 41-42.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"With good hope I shall commit myself wholly to God" - St Thomas More

Today we commemorate the martyrdom of St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and St Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England. They were both martyred in 1535.  This extract from St Thomas More’s letter written in prison to his daughter Margaret is one of the great classics of Christian witness from the period. It is used in today's Office of Readings. (The English Works of Sir Thomas More, London, 1557, p. 1454)

Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in his merciful goodness.  His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience. God’s grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty. In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest. I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God. Either he shall keep the king in that gracious frame of mind to continue to do me no harm, or else, if it be his pleasure that for my other sins I suffer in this case as I shall not deserve, then his grace shall give me the strength to bear it patiently, and perhaps even gladly.

By the merits of his bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, his bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.

I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear.  I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.

And if he permits me to play Saint Peter further and to fall to the ground and to swear and forswear, may God our Lord in his tender mercy keep me from this, and let me lose if it so happen, and never win thereby! Still, if this should happen, afterward I trust that in his goodness he will look on me with pity as he did upon Saint Peter, and make me stand up again and confess the truth of my conscience afresh and endure here the shame and harm of my own fault.

And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault he will not let me be lost. I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him. And if he permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for his justice.  But in good faith, Meg, I trust that his tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend his mercy.

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.

O God, who in martyrdom
have brought true faith to its highest expression,
graciously grant
that, strengthened through the intercession
of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More,
we may confirm by the witness of our life
the faith we profess with our lips.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bishop Geoffrey Rowell (1943-2017) on the Easter Gospel

Go to CATHOLICITY & COVENANT for a fitting tribute to Bishop Geoffrey, and a couple of quotes from his preaching. I share with you here a stunning piece he wrote in the Sunday Times on Easter Day, 8th April, 2007:

Jesus dies. His lifeless body is taken down from the cross. Painters and sculptors have strained their every nerve to portray the sorrow of Mary holding her lifeless son in her arms, as mothers today in Baghdad hold with the same anguish the bodies of their children. On Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve, God is dead, entering into the nothingness of human dying. The source of all being, the One who framed the vastness and the microscopic patterning of the Universe, the delicacy of petals and the scent of thyme, the musician’s melodies and the lover’s heart, is one with us in our mortality. In Jesus, God knows our dying from the inside.

How can these things be said, and sung, and celebrated, as they will be by countless millions this Easter? Only because the blotting out of life by death is not the horizon. The definitive line is not drawn there. From that nothingness and darkness and the seeming triumph of the darkest powers of evil, new life was born, a new creation came to be. On Easter morning a tomb was found empty, a stone rolled away, and a new order broke into the world. The Easter stories of the Gospels are not about “the resurrection of relics”, but about an amazing new life and transfiguration. It is not the resurrection of a principle but of a person, who calls us by name. In St John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene hears the calling of her name by the risen Christ, though blinded by her tears she thinks Him to be the gardener. Clutching his feet she tries to pin him down, to shut him up in the old order, but he tells her not to touch, not to seek to hold down his risen life. She is to go and tell the Good News of resurrection, that all may be drawn into the ascending energy of the love of God.

Jesus breathes on His disciples His life-giving Spirit, the divine life of the new creation. “Go and live that life, live out that love”, for “Christ is risen and the demons are fallen”. The principalities and powers are dethroned. They have no ultimate control of our lives. From the nothingness of death and the absence of God and meaning, Christ rises in triumph and love’s redeeming work is done.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

From Dr Pusey's sermon "Miracles of Prayer"

It is not unusual in conversation among those interested in the 19th century catholic revival for Dr Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) to be compared unfavourably with Newman and others of his contemporaries, even to hear him dismissed with faint praise (in a way that Newman never is) for being a crusty scholar with a gloomy, grim, sad, over-penitential spirituality. 

To be sure, Dr Pusey was a very great theologian and Biblical scholar. And throughout his long life he did endure more than his fair share of personal disappointments and real tragedies, one or two of which would have crushed a weaker man. Clearly each of these left its mark on him. Yet it is precisely they which make his sermons and spiritual writings all the more valuable and impossible to dismiss as trite or untested by experience. Pusey's inner life was not untouched by his struggles and disappointments, and the spiritual habit of muttering of the penitential psalms under his breath was certainly one aspect of his walk with God. But it was one part of a complex whole. His sermons, reflections, letters, meditations and prayers show him to have been a man who, like St Paul, both plumbed the depths and scaled the heights of human life and spiritual reality.

So much of what Pusey wrote and preached is characterised by simplicity, practicality and spiritual depth. Father John Hunwicke spoke for many when he said in his blog a few years ago that Pusey was “one of the very greatest Catholic teachers and spiritual directors of the modern period.” 

Today I share a real gem with you: these paragraphs from Pusey's sermon, "Miracles of Prayer" which he preached at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, on Septuagesima Sunday, 1866. The entire sermon can be downloaded in pdf format HERE. I have also included four of my favourites from among Pusey's prayers.

Prayer is "the ascent of the soul to God;" it is the beginning of that blessed converse, which shall be the exhaustless fulness of eternal bliss; it is the continuance or renewal of union with God.

. . . Blessed dissatisfaction of man's craving soul; glorious restlessness, the token of its Divine birth, its Divine end; that nothing can satisfy it, except what is the bliss of its God, Infinite, Divine love.

Imperfect, faltering, unsatisfactory as are our prayers, their defects but shew the more the goodness of our God, who is never weary of those who are so soon wearied of him, who lets not fall a single earnest cry to him for himself. Not one prayer, from the yearning of the penitent ("would, God, for love of Thee, I had never offended Thee!"), to the love-enkindled longing of the Saint ("My God, and my All!)" but will have enlarged thy capacity for the infinite love of God, and will have drawn down to thee the indwelling of God the Holy Ghost, who is Love Infinite, the Bond of the love of the Father and the Son.

It will guard thee from all evil in the perilous passage through this world; it will sanctify to thee all thy joys; it will be to thee a calm above nature in all thy sorrows; it will give a supernatural value to all thy acts; it will heal all thine infirmities; it will illumine all thy knowledge; and, when thy flesh and thy heart shall fail, thy last prayer upon earth in the Name of Jesus shall melt into thy first Halleluiah in heaven, where, too, doubtless prayer shall never cease, but the soul shall endlessly desire of God, what God shall unintermittingly supply, more and yet more of the exhaustless, ever-filling fulness of Divine Beauty and Wisdom and Love, yea of himself who is Love

Good Jesu, 
fountain of love: 
fill me with thy love, 
absorb me into thy love,
compass me with thy love, 
that I may see all things in the light of thy love, 
receive all things as tokens of thy love, 
speak of all things 
in words breathing of thy love, 
win through thy love others to thy love; 
be kindled, day by day, 
with a new glow of thy love, 
until I be fitted 
to enter into thine everlasting love, 
to adore thy love and love to adore thee, 
my God and my all. 
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Let me not seek out of thee 
what I can find only in thee, O Lord: 
peace and rest and joy and bliss, 
which abide only in thine abiding joy. 
Lift up my soul above the weary round of harassing thoughts 
to thy eternal Presence. 
Lift up my soul 
to the pure, bright, serene, radiant atmosphere of thy Presence,
that there I may breathe freely, 
there repose in thy love, 
there be at rest from myself, 
and from all things that weary me; 
and thence return, 
arrayed with thy peace, 
to do and bear what shall please thee. Amen.

Teach us, O Father, 
how to ask thee each moment silently for thy help. 
If we fail, 
teach us at once to ask thee to forgive us.
If we are disquieted, 
enable us, by thy grace, quickly to turn to thee. 
May nothing come between us and thee. 
May we will, do, and say, 
just what thou, our loving and tender Father, 
wiliest us to will, do, and say. 
Work thy holy will in us, and through us, this day. 
Protect us, guide us, bless us within and without, 
that we may do something this day for love of thee ; 
something which shall please thee ; 
and that we may this evening be nearer to thee, 
though we see it not nor know it. 
Lead us, Lord, in a strait way unto thyself, 
and keep us in thy grace unto the end; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, my God, 
give me a heart to thank thee; 
lift up my heart above myself, 
to thee and thine eternal throne;
let it not linger here 
among the toils and turmoils of this lower world; 
let it not be oppressed by any earth-born clouds 
of care or anxiety or fear or suspicion; 
but bind it wholly to thee and to thy love; 
give me eyes to see thy love in all things, 
and thy grace in all around me; 
make me to thank thee for thy love and thy grace 
to all and in all; 
give me wings of love, 
that I may soar up to thee, 
and cling to thee, and adore thee, 
and praise thee more and more, 
until I be fitted to enter into the joys of thine everlasting love, 
everlastingly to love thee and thy grace, 
whereby thou didst make me such as thou couldest love, 
such as could love thee,
O God, my God. Amen.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecostal life

Before Jesus entered the glory of the heavenly sanctuary as our great High Priest, the cloud taking him "out of their sight", he told his followers not to leave Jerusalem, but to "wait for the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4). Then he reassured them, "You shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Clearly he said that because of the difficulty of living for him in our own strength, going forth to evangelise just with our human insights and abilities, or trying to establish his new community of love and faith, the Church, merely as a sociological reality. "Power from on high" was what they needed for their mission. (And it's what we desperately need, too.)

So, leaving Mount Olivet they returned to Jerusalem, spending their time between the temple and the upper room. We read that there were "about 120" of them, not just the Apostles. This was the nucleus of the first Church. They waited "with Mary" for the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon them. "With one accord" they "devoted themselves to prayer" (Acts 1:14).

In Serve the Lord With Gladness (p. 51), the late Fr Lev Gillet (who wrote simply as "A Monk of the Eastern Church") remarks that "Even in the context of the Eucharistic liturgy, the Spirit is not given only for the sake of the Eucharist itself. The purpose of His coming is to lead us into Pentecostal life, the life of the Spirit. Have we ever taken seriously the promises of the Lord after His Resurrection, made not only to His apostles but to every believer?"

There is no better time to ask ourselves that question than today - Pentecost Sunday - when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church.

My prayer for all readers of this blog - whatever tradition you belong to, and whatever "spirituality" nourishes your walk with God at this time of your life - is that you will have the joy of entering more deeply than ever before into the mystery of Pentecost; that the love, the power, the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit will be released afresh in you and in the Church communities of which you are part.

You may be in a time of great blessing at this stage of your life. On the other hand, you might feel more as if you are trudging through the desert, the wilderness. Well, that's also part of following Jesus! The fact is that wherever we are right now, the Holy Spirit is working to transform us - individuals and communities - into the image and likeness of Jesus.

We also need to remember that the chief purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the "Promise of the Father" is not to make us feel good, but to empower us to witness in our day to day lives to Jesus and the salvation he offers a crushed, broken and violent world.


Friday, June 2, 2017

‘Even the little children were targets’ - Coptic Christians describe bus attack in Egypt

By Heba Farouk Mahfouz, in the Washington Post, 1st June, 2017

Relatives mourn during the funeral for victims killed 
in an attack in central Egypt on May 26. 
(Mohamed Hossam/European Pressphoto Agency)

The passengers on the bus heard a noise and thought a tire had exploded.

One young man got up to see what had happened, and why there was so much smoke. But before he could open the door, a bullet smashed the glass and hit him in the head. Several gunmen dressed in military-style uniforms then sprayed the bus with gunfire.

“In a second, they [the gunmen] got inside and shot at every living and moving object they could see,” said the driver, Boshra Kamel, 56, who was shot several times but survived by playing dead. “Even the little children were targets to them.”

The passengers — a group of Coptic Christians — were on their way to a monastery in the Minya region, 150 miles south of Cairo, when the gunmen attacked last Friday, killing at least 30 people and wounding 26. It was the latest incident in rising violence targeting the country’s minority Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population.

Days after the massacre, I spoke to several survivors who had been transferred to the Nasser Medical Institute in Cairo for treatment. Among them were 13 members of one extended family.

With bullets still in her body, Samia Adly, 56, walked slowly down a hallway filled with relatives, religious leaders and officials who wanted to show their support for the victims.

Adly and her husband, Mohsen Morkos, 66, an Egyptian American, had come to Egypt about two months ago. They were on their way to the monastery for blessings after his successful lung surgery in the United States, she explained. Traveling on the bus with them were two sons, Hany and Sameh, both in their early 30s, two grandchildren and other family members.

“My son Sameh was the first to be martyred,” she said.  “They then shot Boshra, the driver, and then killed my husband.”

Her 4-year-old granddaughter, Marvy, and a nephew were also shot and killed.

After the militants boarded the bus, they asked survivors of the first round of gunfire to “either recite the Islamic shahada creed, live as practicing Muslims, or be killed,” said Nadia Shokry, 54, who was shot three times.

Defying their attackers, the passengers began to pray. “The more we prayed for Christ, the angrier they became and started shooting again and more violently,” Boshra said.

“We told them that we are Christians and we will die Christians,” Adly said as she clutched a cross that a monk had given her at the hospital.

The attackers targeted the male passengers and then began confiscating gold jewelry, money and mobile phones from the female survivors, before shooting at them, too, and running away.

“I begged my attacker to stop after he shot me the first three times. He told me to shut up or he would shoot me in the heart,” Shokry said. She watched as the militants killed her husband, Samuel, 53, her son Mina, 30, and her 18-month-old granddaughter, Maroska, the youngest victim of the attack.

Maroska’s mother tried to shield her from the flying bullets, but the baby was shot in the heart, Shokry said.

“We forgive them,” Shokry said about the attackers.  “I pray God touches their hearts and changes them so that they see the right path.”

The bus attack comes a month after a twin bombing that targeted two churches in Alexandria and Tanta left 49 people dead and scores injured. Last December, a bomb exploded in the main cathedral in Cairo, killing 29 people.

But Minya has experienced the largest number of sectarian attacks, with more than 75 targeting Christian residents in the past six years.

Hours after the bus ambush, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi warned in a televised speech that government forces would strike training camps for terrorists who attack Egypt, regardless of where they are. Later that night, Egyptian fighter jets targeted several militant bases in eastern Libya, the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

St Justin, Martyr

Today's saint, Justin Martyr (100-165) was born at Flavia Neapolis, ancient Shechem in Judaea (now known as Nablus). He referred to himself as a Samaritan, though his father and grandfather were most likely Greek or Roman. 

Justin obviously had property and private means. He studied philosophy, was converted to Christ around the age of 30, and spent the rest of his life teaching what he called the "true philosophy", still wearing his philosopher’s gown. 

He seems to have travelled a great deal. We know that he stayed in Ephesus, and then settled in Rome. Justin was one of the early Christian "apologists", who communicated the Gospel in ways that related to the thought forms and concerns of his contemporaries, and defended the Faith against heresies and false belief. 

Among his writings are the apology [defence] Against Marcion and a Refutation of all Heresies. Both of these writings are now lost. Other writings are the Dialogue with Trypho, the First Apology and the Second Apology

In the opening of the Dialogue Justin describes his search for a knowledge of God among the scholars of the Stoic, Peripatetic, and Pythagorean traditions. Eventually he discovered in the teaching of Plato ways to think about the Godhead. But most important was his meeting on a beach with an old man who told him that only by God's revelation of himself can we know the truth, and that through the prophets this revelation has come, with their words being fulfilled in Christ. 

Justin became convinced that this was true. Furthermore, his observation of the day to day life of Christians, together with the courage of the martyrs, persuaded him that the accusations routinely made against them were unfounded. 

Following his conversion, he became a sought after Christian teacher. 

Justin's writings are valuable historically, as they give us a snapshot of Baptism and the Eucharist in the Church of his day (i.e. during the half-century following the death of the Apostle John). 

Justin suffered martyrdom with six others – five men and a woman – at Rome under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius when Rusticus was prefect of the city (between 162 and 168). The church of St John the Baptist in Sacrofano, a few kilometers north of Rome, claims to house his relics. 

Here is Justin's famous passage on the Eucharist, chapters 66 and 67 of his First Apology

“. . . this food is called among us the Eucharist, which no one may share with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

“We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Saviour became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so the food which is blessed by the prayer of his word and from which our flesh and blood by assimilation are nourished becomes the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.

“For the apostles, in their memoirs, which are called gospels, have delivered to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, and, when he had given thanks, said: ‘Do this in memory of me. This is my body.’ In the same manner having taken the cup and given thanks, he said: ‘This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone.’

“Ever since then we have constantly reminded each other of these things. The wealthy among us help the poor and we always keep together. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

“On the day called Sunday all who live in the city or in the countryside gather in one place. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, for as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the presider of the assembly speaks to us, urging everyone to imitate the examples of righteous living we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

“On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The presider offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give their assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take a portion of what is left over to those who are absent.

“The wealthy, if they willing, make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the presider, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

“Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our Saviour Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday, having appeared to his apostles and disciples, he taught them these things that we have passed on to you for your consideration. The food we receive, however, is very special.”

And here is the account of St Justin's martyrdom from the anonymous Acts of the Martyrdom of Saint Justin and his Companion Saints written shortly after the martyrdom of St Justin. This passage is used in the current Breviary for today's Office of Readings. 

The saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgment seat, Rusticus the prefect said to Justin: “Above all, have faith in the gods and obey the emperors.” Justin said: “We cannot be accused or condemned for obeying the commands of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Rusticus said: “What system of teaching do you profess?” Justin said: “I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “Are those doctrines approved by you, wretch that you are?” Justin said: “Yes, for I follow them with their correct teaching.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “What sort of teaching is that?” Justin said: “Worship the God of the Christians. We hold him to be from the beginning the one creator and maker of the whole creation, of things seen and things unseen. We worship also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was foretold by the prophets as the future herald of salvation for the human race and the teacher of distinguished disciples. For myself, since I am a human being, I consider that what I say is insignificant in comparison with his infinite godhead. I acknowledge the existence of a prophetic power, for the one I have just spoken of as the Son of God was the subject of prophecy. I know that the prophets were inspired from above when they spoke of his coming among men.”

Rusticus said: “You are a Christian, then?” Justin said: “Yes, I am a Christian.” The prefect said to Justin: “You are called a learned man and think that you know what is true teaching. Listen: if you were scourged and beheaded, are you convinced that you would go up to heaven?” Justin said: “I hope that I shall enter God’s house if I suffer that way. For I know that God’s favor is stored up until the end of the whole world for all who have lived good lives.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “Do you have an idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable rewards?” Justin said: “It is not an idea that I have; it is something I know well and hold to be most certain.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “Now let us come to the point at issue, which is necessary and urgent. Gather round then and with one accord offer sacrifice to the gods.” Justin said: “No one who is right thinking stoops from true worship to false worship.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “If you do not do as you are commanded you will be tortured without mercy.” Justin said: “We hope to suffer torment for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be saved. For this will bring us salvation and confidence as we stand before the more terrible and universal judgment-seat of our Lord and Savior.”

In the same way the other martyrs also said: “Do what you will. We are Christians; we do not offer sacrifice to idols.”

The prefect Rusticus pronounced sentence, saying: “Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the command of the emperor be scourged and led away to suffer capital punishment according to the ruling of the laws.” Glorifying God, the holy martyrs went out to the accustomed place. They were beheaded, and so fulfilled their witness of martyrdom in confessing their faith in their Saviour.

O God,
who through the folly of the Cross
wondrously taught Saint Justin the Martyr
the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ,
grant us, through his intercession, that,
having rejected deception and error,
we may become steadfast in the faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.